This year was the longest I've ever been away from home, the longest I've gone without seeing my family, closest friends, or familiar places in my life. Sixteen days into 2017 I left Scotland for America. Less than a week later the U.S inaugurated their new president, so I've had a front row seat to that macabre flea-circus of an administration.
However, there has been an opposite and greater reaction to this misstep in democracy, and it has been one of the priveleges of my life to be in New York City at this moment to witness and contribute to the movement that amplifies the voices that have been disavowed and abused here. Marching down fifth avenue in an overwhelming, pink-hatted multitude, knowing that similar processions were taking place all over the world, that my Mum was at that moment marching in Edinburgh, my partner in Washington DC. The energy of the throng felt new, we didn't know as many songs or chants as I remember singing in my late teens at anti-fascist rallies and screeching during protests against the Tory cuts back in the UK years ago, but we made up for it in New York with tangible, electric, inarticulate passion.
I began to put down roots here. My first gig on a stage in America was on the upper west side, performing a series of plays by women writers, as part of the national Future is Female festival.
In June I was cast in The Shakespeare Forum's production of Titus Andronicus, where in addition to playing Demetrius, Mutius, and Titus himself at the climax, I was also tasked with creating a soundscape for the piece, finding ways to musically represent the characters mutiliation. I found an old piano going for free on Craiglist and, with the help of my roommates and a man with a van, wheeled it to the venue in the upper east side, an old schoolhouse renovated into theatre spaces, dance studios, galleries and apartments for artists. By the time it arrived most of the keys had died and it was totally out of tune. I spent a lot of the rehearsal process finding unconventional ways of making music from the instrument. I learned how to play melodies by flicking the hammers at the strings directly, how to use the pedals so that any other noise on stage reverberates hauntingly through the carcass of the piano, and is amplified back to the audience, distorted and hollow.
Titus allowed me to widen my scope of what I believe I'm capable of. I began to be more ambitious with my professional pursuits, going after short film roles in American accents, which allowed me to travel outside of the city a little, filming in an old farmhouse in Connecticut, or a university campus out in New Jersey.
I'm starting to fall in love with this country's potential. In New York City, I've seen something I never thought I'd see in my life, almost every day, from the profound to the horrific. I don't know what to do yet with all these new experiences, but I'm hoping 2017 will bring me some more opportunities. If not, p
laying Puck and Cassio in Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello for 5 months across four or five states will do for now!